MANOR COMPETITION -- FRUK DONINGTON PARK NATIONAL PREVIEW New Ollerton-based Formula Renault UK team Manor Competition is gearing up for the first of two visits this year to its local circuit, Donington Park in Leicestershire, which will host...
MANOR COMPETITION -- FRUK DONINGTON PARK NATIONAL PREVIEW
New Ollerton-based Formula Renault UK team Manor Competition is gearing up for the first of two visits this year to its local circuit, Donington Park in Leicestershire, which will host the 11th and 12th rounds of the season this weekend, 14th/15th July.
Manor will arrive at the venue's 1.95-mile National Circuit high in confidence after a very promising outing in France last weekend at the Val de Vienne Circuit where Alexander Sims achieved the team's first pole position of the season, the 19-year-old's maiden pole of his debut campaign, ahead of the eighth round of the French Formula Renault series.
Racing against the cream of European competition, Manor enjoyed a rewarding outing and even though the multiple UK champion entrant had just one hour of testing prior to the first action of the weekend, and although problems in round eight itself saw a potential podium finish go astray, the team was delighted with its competitiveness.
Reflecting on the Val de Vienne weekend, Manor Competition team boss Tony Shaw said: "Alexander did a great job, in second qualifying he produced a stonking effort to be on pole position and to be quicker than the French drivers and teams in their backyard was incredibly satisfying and a terrific team effort.
"That's particularly true when you consider the championship regulars had two full days of testing at Val de Vienne last Tuesday and Wednesday whereas we only had one hour the Friday before the race. It's unfortunate the racing didn't go to plan but Alexander's pace was strong and a podium was definitely on the cards.
"It was a very enjoyable weekend and we'd like to extend our gratitude to Harry at the Route 66 Biker Hotel at Bussiere Poitevine, he looked after the team really well and made sure we all had plenty of fun!"
Manor also had an excellent run during official Formula Renault UK testing at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent last week prior to the team's visit to central France, Sims posting the fourth fastest time overall and team-mate Alex Morgan producing the sixth quickest lap during the afternoon session of a test notable for changing conditions.
"Brands was brilliant", added Shaw, "Easily the best work we've been able to do for quite some time. Alexander was strong and as soon as Alex had new tyres he was very quick, he had a great afternoon. Although on the final times Kris (Loane) was further down than hoped, it was simply due to the weather which badly affected his runs.
"Although quick times were important, our priority was to work on the cars rather than running the gauntlet with the changeable weather. It was the first time we've had some quality testing since the season started and we also had our regular driver coach Marc Hynes with us (1999 British Formula 3 Champion with Manor Motorsport) which was a great help."
Now, the team's attention turns to the start of the second half of the UK season at Donington Park National Circuit. As a venue the team has historically enjoyed a high level of success at, Manor is hopeful of a genuinely competitive outing this weekend which begins a day earlier than usual with pre-event testing taking place on Thursday.
"Nobody has been to Donington yet with the new aerodynamic kit so we'll know at the end of Thursday's test the way things look. We're confident Alexander will be buoyed by his performance in France and Donington is a circuit Alex enjoys, one of his better performances in winter testing came there so we're hopeful of a good run", said Shaw.
"Kris is improving all of the time and even though the timesheets at Brands maybe didn't reflect that, we know the work he's been doing and Donington could well see another step forward for him. The team is feeling pretty confident, everyone is working very hard and we're really looking forward to this weekend."
Pre-event testing at Donington will take place on Thursday, 12th July, with qualifying for rounds 11 and 12 of the Formula Renault UK season following on Saturday, 14th July, at 10.35 and 15.15 respectively.
Both races are timetabled for Sunday, 15th July, with round 11 beginning at 10.40 and round 12 scheduled to get underway at 16.10. Cable and digital satellite subscription channel Setanta Sports 1 will broadcast each Formula Renault UK encounter live.